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Biden Issues Rule Limiting Sale of Semiauto Weapon Conversion Tools

The Biden administration said it would crack down on the sale of firearm accessories used to convert short-barreled semiautomatic weapons into long rifles, part of a stepped-up effort to address mass shootings. A final rule released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will require about three million gun owners to apply for a permit within 120 days to use the accessories, known as stabilizing braces. After that, they will have to pay a $200 fee, the New York Times reports. New buyers of braces will have to pay the tax immediately. “In the days of Al Capone, Congress said back then that short-barreled rifles and sawed-off shotguns should be subjected to greater legal requirements than most other guns,” said ATF director Steven Dettelbach. "The reason for that is that short-barreled rifles have the greater capability of long guns, yet are easier to conceal, like a pistol.”

The rule follows a government decision to enforce another federal regulation, this one intended to limit the availability of homemade, untraceable firearms known as ghost guns. Both measures, which rely on interpretations of existing federal law, are facing legal challenges from gun rights groups that claim they violate the constitutional right to bear arms. Possession of sawed-off shotguns and other short-barreled rifles — favored by criminals because they combine easy concealment with lethal firepower — is illegal under federal law. A removable stabilizing brace allows assailants to leverage shorter-length weapons against their shoulder, providing a more stable platform for firing rapid bursts of deadly fire. The rule will become effective over the next week after it is published in the Federal Register. Officials made one substantial change to a preliminary version of the rule — eliminating a checklist to determine if the rule applied to a gun — after receiving more than 230,000 comments from citizens, many of them gun owners opposed to the regulation. The National Rifle Association criticized the new rule, saying it would adversely affect disabled veterans and other people who require braces to fire handguns.

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